Causes of Action

John A. Miller, Author
John A. Miller, Author Pocket Books $23 (256p) ISBN 978-0-671-02331-7
Mass Market Paperbound - 320 pages - 978-0-671-02332-4
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Claude McCutcheon (Cutdown), a lawyer with his own small practice in the East Bay town of Albany, Calif., finds a child dumped on his doorstep. The abandoned boy is a quiet four-year-old named Earl, whose father, Jesse Hamilton, was in Claude's platoon in Vietnam. Jesse is in serious trouble. Although he hasn't seen Claude in more than 30 years, he has decided that Claude is the only person he can trust with his son. Claude knows that he must track Jesse down by locating his more recent associates, including several of the other men from the platoon; as he does, dreadful memories of war haunt him. Jesse, Claude learns, had been working for a Silicon Valley firm called Sentinel Microsystems. For a high-tech company, Sentinel employs some awfully vicious thugs. Apparently, Jesse had something on a computer disk that they want back. They believe that Claude now has the disk--and they aim to retrieve it. Miller's plot isn't entirely fresh, nor is his Vietnam-revisited theme. He's strong on atmosphere, however (""Dawn eased over the East Bay hills like year-old motor oil draining slowly out of a crankcase""), and Claude makes for an appealingly moody hero who harbors hidden depths beneath his roiled surface. (Jan.)
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